Low-cost airline easyJet and aerospace manufacturer Rolls-Royce have launched a partnership to develop hydrogen engines capable of powering commercial passenger planes.
The objective of the H2Zero agreement is to demonstrate that hydrogen has the potential to be used in a range of aircraft from the mid-2030s onwards.
Ground tests will take place by the end of this year.
Both companies are signed up to reaching net zero for carbon emissions by 2050.
Announcing the partnership at the Farnborough International Airshow in Hampshire, easyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said “radical action” is needed to address aviation’s climate impact.
He continued: “The technology that emerges from this programme has the potential to power easyJet-size aircraft, which is why we will also be making a multimillion-pound investment into this programme.
“In order to achieve decarbonisation at scale, progress on the development of zero-emission technology for narrow-body aircraft is crucial.
“Together with Rolls-Royce, we look forward to leading the industry to tackle this challenge head on.”
The only waste product from using hydrogen as a fuel is water.
Rolls-Royce chief technology and strategy officer Grazia Vittadini said: “H2Zero is a big step forward for Rolls-Royce and we are excited to be working with a partner that shares a desire to innovate and find new answers to aviation’s biggest challenges.
“We at Rolls-Royce want to be ready to pioneer sustainability with whatever the future requires, be it hydrogen, electric power, sustainable aviation fuel or gas turbine efficiency.
“This agreement further inspires us to move forward.”
EasyJet is continuing to collaborate with US firm Wright Electric on the development of an electric airliner.